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Updated: April 19, 2012 23:53 IST

India can't be target of regime restrictions: Mathai

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Ranjan Mathai
Ranjan Mathai

India has said it cannot be the target of regime-based restrictions and has sought full membership of the export-control entities.

In his keynote address at the MEA-IDSA National Export Control Seminar here on Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai was confident that India could fulfil the requirements of these export-control regimes, and the logical conclusion for it was to get full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

India's partnership with the four regimes, he said, would be mutually beneficial in terms of common non-proliferation objectives. “...the main purpose and primary objective of India's enhanced and sustained engagement with these regimes is full membership. We will take forward this process of engagement and apply for membership when the necessary preparations have been completed, and the ground has been prepared for India's full membership.”

Touching on India's efforts at engaging with the four regimes, Mr. Mathai said: “This year, we have already completed outreach meetings with the NSG in Vienna on March 1, with the MTCR on January 30, with the Wassenaar Arrangement on March 21, and [we] plan the… meeting with the Australia Group in the coming weeks.”

Each regime had its own membership criteria, control list and methodology of work, he said. “There are underlying objectives and principles which are common to all the regimes to which India subscribes, as it has demonstrated responsible non-proliferation and export control practices.”

Mr. Mathai said India had the ability to produce, manufacture or supply a vast majority of items controlled by these regimes. India had the ability to enforce a legally based domestic export control system that would fortify the commitment to act in accordance with the guidelines of the regimes.

Stressing that India had considerable experience in the implementation of its export control systems, he said: “We have witnessed instances of would-be proliferators targeting India to source or route their supplies. Our agencies have taken appropriate preventive action in such cases.”

He recalled the NSG's decision of September 2008 on civil nuclear cooperation, which widely recognised India's impeccable non-proliferation record and mentioned the steps India had taken — for instance, the Safeguard Agreement it signed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2009. “We have already put 12 out of [the] 14 nuclear reactors under IAEA safeguards. Only two… reactors are required to be notified by 2014.”

India had signed civil nuclear cooperation agreements with France, the U.S., Russia, Canada, Argentina, the U.K., Namibia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. Negotiations were taking place with Japan on a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement, he said, and, “with the U.S., India signed an agreement, setting out arrangements and procedures for reprocessing, pursuant to their bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement in July 2010.”

He stressed that India continued its policy of refraining from transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that did not possess them and supporting international efforts to limit their spread.

“We supported the establishment of an IAEA fuel bank resolution adopted by the IAEA Board in December 2010 and by the Board of Governors in March 2011.”

India, he said, had the capability to be a supplier state. It “has a longstanding commitment to complete, universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons in a time-bound manner — a vision that was set forth in the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan… We remain committed to a voluntary and unilateral moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.”

On India's export control regimes, he said: “Our export controls are in line with the highest international standards... The Directorate-General of Foreign Trade is in the process of introducing, by June, an online application system that would ease the application process.”

Noting that the Confederation of Indian Industry was working on a voluntary “code of conduct” for export controls, he said India was open to cooperating with other countries in sharing experiences and best practices in export controls.

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